After a week of unseasonably cool weather, the July 4th holiday weekend was happily hot. This triggered a swarm response in my bees. Three swarms left the hives. We captured 2 of the swarms, but had to let the 3rd swarm fly off because I had nowhere to put them. We were all working outside that morning when we heard the buzzing sound get louder and louder. There was no mistaking that sound. Looking up, the air was filled with bees.
We looked up from our work, and saw a sight, too common at this time of year, and yet always amazing. Thousands of bees circling around, looking for a suitable temporary place to land.
Within minutes, they decided on a hawthorne tree just south of the apiary. When the cluster had formed, we scoped out the situation and realized we could lop of a branch and carry it back to a ready hive box.
Charlie Ryan, our fearless intern, touched the hive and said, “It’s soft!”. Later, he was stung once on the forehead, but used a leaf of plantain as a poltice and was fine soon enough. Charlie volunteered to be the branch lopper. Sophia, who was visiting from Wash DC for the weekend, eagerly donned my spare coveralls and said she’d carry the branch back to the apiary.
We approached the cluster carefully and had to remove many small thorns, which give the HawTHORN tree its name, before Sophia could grab hold of the branch. When all was ready, Charlie lopped the branch while Sophia held it. Then she held it high and walked to the apiary while I cried out “All hail the queen! Make way for the queen!” This reminded me of the time when Sophia led her 2nd grade class at the Detroit Waldorf School on St Lucia Day. As the oldest child in the class, she had the honor of dressing as St Lucia with a crown of candles on her head, leading a procession as her class brought special buns and coffee to all the classrooms.
But I digress. The branch of bees was brought to the empty hive box, placed over the frames, given a good shake, and all the bees, including the queen, were transferred. All is well in the apiary.